By Keith Coffman
DENVER Aug 15 A high-pressure burst of natural
gas at a well operated by Canadian energy giant Encana
Corporation in Colorado killed one man and injured
three other workers on Wednesday, the company and local
The accident at the well in Platteville, Colorado, about 30
miles (48 km) northeast of Denver, apparently resulted from an
equipment failure, said Weld County Sheriff's Office Sergeant
"It appears to be an industrial accident and doesn't look
like anything suspicious," he said, adding there was no
explosion or fire.
A 60-year-old worker was killed and three other workers were
hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, Schwartz said.
The precise cause of the "high-pressure gas release" is
under investigation, said Wendy Wiedenbeck, a Denver-based
spokeswoman for Encana.
Two of the three injured workers and the man who was killed
were Encana contractors, Wiedenbeck said. The third injured
victim was a company employee. Their names were not immediately
The fatal burst of natural gas occurred after the drilling
of a horizontal gas well had just been completed and workers
were in the process of putting the well into production,
Additional circumstances of the accident were not
immediately known, but no adjacent facilities were damaged, she
"The location and well are secure," she said. "Our thoughts
and prayers go out to the families and friends of our
The well is one of about 1,100 oil and gas wells operated by
Encana in a fossil fuel-rich region of eastern Colorado known as
the Denver-Julesburg Basin. Encana, headquartered in Calgary, is
one of North America's leading producers of natural gas.
Wiedenbeck said Wednesday's accident marks the first
fatality for Encana in the basin.
The accident comes amid heightened scrutiny of the oil and
gas industry sparked by accelerated onshore energy development
in recent years coinciding with the advent of hydraulic
fracturing, or fracking.
The production-boosting technique involves the injection of
large amounts of water, chemicals and sand into underground
rock formations to force the extraction of hydrocarbon fuels
that would otherwise be inaccessible.
The company typically employs fracking in its horizontal
wells, but "this was not a hydraulic fracturing accident,"
"That part of the operation (fracking) had already been
completed" as part of the well-drilling work that was performed
before the well was being placed into production, she added.